Hepatitis Facts

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, resulting in liver cell damage and destruction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million people have hepatitis B infections. Learn more about hepatitis ›

Symptoms of Hepatitis

  • Abdominal pain

  • Belching

  • Diarrhea

  • Gas

  • Indigestion

  • Vomiting

  • Body aches

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Fever and chills

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Headache

  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)

  • Bloody or black stools

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Fainting or change in level of consciousness or lethargy

  • Head injury

  • High fever (over 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Rapid pulse or rapid breathing

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Severe headache or stiff neck

  • Vomiting blood or black material (resembling coffee grounds)

  • Food intolerances or allergies

  • Food poisoning

  • Gallstones

  • Gastritis and viral gastroenteritis

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • Hiatal hernia

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Kidney disease (kidney stones, kidney failure)

  • Liver disease (hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure)

  • Overeating or eating a high-fat meal

  • Pancreatitis

  • Peptic ulcer

Learn more about symptoms of hepatitis

Treatment for Hepatitis

Remember: No vaccine or medication can prevent the spread of HCV and hepatitis C. It’s up to you to keep others safe.

It’s likely that hepatitis C virus (HCV) was found when routine liver tests were done on your blood or after you donated blood. Once hepatitis C is discovered, a medical evaluation helps assess if you have liver disease. You may also have a small sample (biopsy) taken from the liver to see if medications may help.

To help keep your body strong and possibly relieve symptoms:

  • Avoid stressing the liver. Do not use alcohol and any unnecessary medications—even over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen. These can stress the liver.

  • Eat a balanced diet. A diet low in fat, high in fiber, and full of fresh fruits and vegetables helps you maintain your health.

  • Take prescribed medications. To help your liver work better, you may be given injections of a medication called alpha interferon 3 times a week for 6–12 months. In most cases, you will also be given ribavirin (an antiviral medication) to take orally 2 times a day. Your doctor can talk to you about the possible side effects of therapy with these medications.

Learn more about treatment for hepatitis

Living with Hepatitis

The preteen years are a time when young people experiment with new things and begin to exert their independence. For these reasons, it is very important for your child to be vaccinated against hepatitis B. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is spread through having sex with an infected person without using a condom and by sharing contaminated needles. It also is spread through accidental needle sticks, affecting health care workers, or from an infected mother to her baby during birth.

Hepatitis B is a highly contagious, sexually transmitted disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver, possibly causing lifelong liver infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, and death. In the United States, HBV is responsible for an estimated 2,000 to 5,000 deaths each year. People of any age can become infected with HBV. A person who is not immune to HBV can become infected by coming in contact with a small amount of blood or body fluids from an infected person.

Learn more about living with hepatitis

Your Guide to Hepatitis

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